Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Surveyor and engineer. Patrick Leahy, who was born circa 1779, appears to have been a native of Co. Tipperary. By his own account he started working as a surveyor circa 1797, but his first known employment was in 1810-1813 as an assistant to the Bogs Commissioners' engineer, Thomas Townshend, with whom he was also associated on various canal schemes. There are references to him in the diary of Sir Vere Hunt, of Curragh Chase, Co. Limerick, who was engaged in developing the town of New Birmingham on his Co. Tipperary estates and who, in August 1813, asked Leahy to prepare plans for a bridewell for the town.(1) Leahy was living in Thurles Co. Tipperary, in 1818, when he advertised his services as an engineer and land-surveyor in the Clonmel Advertiser; he also ran a grocery shop in the town to supplement his income. In the mid-1820s he appears to have spent some time in Dublin but he was back in Tipperary, living in Clonmel, by 1827. Around this time he found some employment with the Hibernian Rail Road Company under ALEXANDER NIMMO ALEXANDER NIMMO , and in 1830-1831 he and his sons DENIS LEAHY  DENIS LEAHY and EDMUND LEAHY  EDMUND LEAHY were employed by Nimmo in England on railway surveys for the Liverpool and Leeds line. Between 1831 and 1834 he and his sons weere engaged on the preparation of a map of the city of Waterford.

In May 1834 Leahy was appointed county surveyor for the East Riding of Co. Cork. At the same time his son EDMUND LEAHY  EDMUND LEAHY was appointed county surveyor for the West Riding of the county. The two men worked in the same premises, assisted in an unofficial capacity by Patrick's sons Denis and Matthew. The fact that Patrick and Edmund between them controlled public works in the entire county and were also in private practice gave them ample scope for abuses of the system, which led to Patrick's dismissal for fraud in March 1846. He was succeeded by JOHN BENSON. P JOHN BENSON. P atrick Leahy was also surveyor for Cork city from 1842 or earlier until 1846(2) and in 1836 and 1837 was the Ecclesiastical Commissioners' provincial architect for Munster.(3)

Patrick Leahy's movements between March 1846 and December 1848 are not known. On 8 January 1849 he set sail from London for the Cape of Good Hope together with Edmund, Edmund's wife, three 'Misses Leahy' and three 'Masters Leahy'. He died at the Cape in straitened circumstances on 5 October 1850. His wife Margaret (née Cormack) had predeceased him in 1845. He was survived by his eldest son, Patrick, president of St Patrick's College, Thurles, and future Archbishop of Cashel, by Denis, Edmund and Matthew, and by his four daughters.

ICEI: founder member, 1835.(4)
Inst.CE: elected associate member, 1834.

Addresses: Work: 20 South Mall, Cork, 1846.
Home: Thurles, 1818; Anne Street, Clonmel, 1827-1832; Glenville, Glanmire, Co. Cork; Bruin Lodge, 109 Lower Glanmire Road, Cork, 1844-1846.


This entry is condensed from Brendan O'Donoghue's definitive account of the lives of Patrick Leahy and his sons, In Search of fame and fortune: the Leahy family of engineers 1780-1888 (Dublin: Geography Publications, 2006). A more condensed account of Patrick Leahy's life is in the same author's The Irish County Surveyors 1834-1944 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), 234-237.

(1) NLI microfilm P.5527 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(2) Jones transcripts from Thom's directories.
(3) Parliamentary Papers Church 1837-38 (142) & 1844 (319) suggest that he may have continued to do work for the Commissioners (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(4) Photocopy of transcript of minutes of first meeting of Engineers' Society of Ireland, 6 Aug 1835, in IAA, Jones File F73.